Comic-relief Representative Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), who last month told Americans that assault weapons are killing “millions of kids” in the United States, is suing seven lawmakers — including House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) — to have his House Censure from 2010 overturned.
- Dodging Federal income tax on money he made from rental property — for 17 years.
- Filing purposely misleading documents with the Internal Revenue Service.
- “Failing” to report $3 million in business dealings from 2002 to 2006.
- Omitting the 2004 sale of a Harlem residence from his tax filing.
- Lowballing his assets’ worth — by $780,000 — when reporting to the IRS in 2007.
- Using Congressional letterhead to solicit donations for a monument to himself — literally — and receiving the money from companies and charities that had matters before Congress’ Ways and Means Committee, which Rangel chaired at the time.
- Operating a campaign office out of a Harlem apartment he instead claimed as his residence.
A censure is a bad thing (in fact, the only worse thing Congress can do to one of their own is to expel him altogether), and it involves ceremony and public humiliation. Rangel had to stand in the well of the House while then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) read a House resolution telling him what a bad guy he’d been. It was great public theater.
But, in practical terms, censure is dreaded more for what it can do to a political career than for any legal teeth it has. In Rangel’s case, censure didn’t affect his career, other than his having to step down from his chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee. Rangel’s Harlem constituents have re-elected him consecutively and, usually, overwhelmingly to additional terms ever since he first took office in 1971, and they did it again in 2012.
Now 82 years old, Rangel, a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, isn’t content with immunity from prosecution and sailing to re-election yet again. Five months into his new Congressional term, he’s going after history itself. He wants the censure gone.
He’s not proclaiming his innocence, though. Like any good lawyer, the former Federal attorney is trying to get off on a technicality. Rangel claims the House Ethics Committee knowingly deceived the full body by not revealing that it may not have followed procedural rules as it conducted the investigation.
Michelle Malkin noted Monday that Rangel might be courting disaster by asking for an examination of how the Ethics Committee did its investigative work. It’s possible, after all, it didn’t catch every crime and malfeasance the first time around.